Acting governor Jude U. Hofschneider hopes the joint session of the House and Representatives and Senate this afternoon will approve the proposed land lease deal between Alter City Group and the Department of Public Lands.
“It’s one of the main topics of discussion [on Tinian] over the last couple of months. It’s good for the economy and it’s good for the CNMI and we have confidence in their ability, in this case the developers, that they’re going to work very hard with the CNMI government to realize their land investment on Tinian,” Hofschneider said in an interview following the graduation of seven Customs officers Wednesday at the Office of the Governor.
He said he is confident that the CNMI government and the Tinian Municipality will work together in relocating the open landfill at Puntan Diablo, which is situated right smack in the middle of the proposed $360-million casino resort’s planned 18-hole golf course.
“Historically speaking, that landfill or dump issue has been in the discussion for several years now. The money is still there and annual appropriation will continue to flow into that pot until the new U.S. [Environmental Protection Agency]-certified landfill is finished.”
He added that the issue of the transfer station and anything else associated with the closure of the dumpsite and the opening of the new EPA-approved one is ongoing.
Rep. Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said it’s about time the House and Senate finally take a vote on the land lease deal.
“The committees submitted it [standing committee reports] and we’re ready for the joint session and go through it and take a vote,” he said.
The land lease agreement between Macau-based Alter City and Public Lands requires two-thirds affirmative votes from the joint session of the House and Senate.
Despite not being part of the administration, Benavente said he’s still voting yes on the land lease agreement.
“It’s something good for the people of Tinian and this development is worthwhile for the community as it will improve the economy of the island.”
He said he just wants a guarantee from the Municipality of Tinian and Alter City that they will work hand in hand in relocating the contentious dumpsite.
“That has to be done in three years’ time. The lease agreement gives the leasee three years’ time to complete the permitting process so after three years the investor can move in, so the dumpsite should be relocated by then.”
Alter City plans to build its casino resort at Puntan Diablo, also known as Nasarino, on Tinian.
It is the same area that was previously leased by Marianas Resort Development Corp., or MRDC, before the latter abandoned the lease. MRDC had planned to build a $300-million Matua Bay Casino Resort on the property, including an 18-hole golf course.
The three-phased project includes the construction of 1,000 hotel rooms, water parks, an 18-hole golf course, villas, casino facilities and related tourism amenities, to be completed within 12 years.